How to format your references using the The Astrophysical Journal Letters citation style

This is a short guide how to format citations and the bibliography in a manuscript for The Astrophysical Journal Letters. For a complete guide how to prepare your manuscript refer to the journal's instructions to authors.

Using reference management software

Typically you don't format your citations and bibliography by hand. The easiest way is to use a reference manager:

PaperpileThe citation style is built in and you can choose it in Settings > Citation Style or Paperpile > Citation Style in Google Docs.
EndNoteFind the style here: output styles overview
Mendeley, Zotero, Papers, and othersThe style is either built in or you can download a CSL file that is supported by most references management programs.
BibTeXBibTeX syles are usually part of a LaTeX template. Check the instructions to authors if the publisher offers a LaTeX template for this journal.

Journal articles

Those examples are references to articles in scholarly journals and how they are supposed to appear in your bibliography.

Not all journals organize their published articles in volumes and issues, so these fields are optional. Some electronic journals do not provide a page range, but instead list an article identifier. In a case like this it's safe to use the article identifier instead of the page range.

A journal article with 1 author
Benjamin, S. 2000, Science, 290, 2273
A journal article with 2 authors
Suzuki, Y., & Nijhout, H. F. 2006, Science, 311, 650
A journal article with 3 authors
Huey, D. J., Hu, J. C., & Athanasiou, K. A. 2012, Science, 338, 917
A journal article with 6 or more authors
Huang, Y.-A., Kao, C.-W., Liu, K.-K., et al. 2014, Sci Rep, 4, 6919

Books and book chapters

Here are examples of references for authored and edited books as well as book chapters.

An authored book
Hiltscher, G., Mühlthaler, W., & Smits, J. 2003, Industrial Pigging Technology (Weinheim, FRG: Wiley-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA)
An edited book
Hage, J., & Akkermans, B. 2014, Introduction to Law (Cham: Springer International Publishing)
A chapter in an edited book
Van de Weghe, N., Kuijpers, B., Bogaert, P., & De Maeyer, P. 2005, in GeoSpatial Semantics: First International Conference, GeoS 2005, Mexico City, Mexico, November 29-30, 2005. Proceedings, ed. M. A. Rodríguez, I. Cruz, S. Levashkin, & M. J. Egenhofer (Berlin, Heidelberg: Springer), 60

Web sites

Sometimes references to web sites should appear directly in the text rather than in the bibliography. Refer to the Instructions to authors for The Astrophysical Journal Letters.


This example shows the general structure used for government reports, technical reports, and scientific reports. If you can't locate the report number then it might be better to cite the report as a book. For reports it is usually not individual people that are credited as authors, but a governmental department or agency like "U. S. Food and Drug Administration" or "National Cancer Institute".

Government report
Government Accountability Office. 2008, Space Acquisitions: Major Space Programs Still at Risk for Cost and Schedule Increases (Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office)

Theses and dissertations

Theses including Ph.D. dissertations, Master's theses or Bachelor theses follow the basic format outlined below.

Doctoral dissertation
Kurum, M. 2009, L-band estimation of forest canopy attenuation by a time-domain analysis of radar backscatter response (Washington, DC: George Washington University)

News paper articles

Unlike scholarly journals, news papers do not usually have a volume and issue number. Instead, the full date and page number is required for a correct reference.

New York Times article
Feeney, K. 2008, New York Times, NJ9

In-text citations

References should be cited in the text by name and year in parentheses:

This sentence cites one reference (Benjamin 2000).
This sentence cites two references (Benjamin 2000; Suzuki & Nijhout 2006).

Here are examples of in-text citations with multiple authors:

  • Two authors: (Suzuki & Nijhout 2006)
  • Three or more authors: (Huang et al. 2014)

About the journal

Full journal titleThe Astrophysical Journal Letters
AbbreviationAstrophys. J. Lett.
ISSN (print)2041-8205
ISSN (online)2041-8213
ScopeSpace and Planetary Science
Astronomy and Astrophysics

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